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Ta muchly for visiting. Here you will find musings, ramblings and a few statements of fact. They say women can have it all, motherhood, careers and crazy social lives. But what if we don't want it all? What if we want some of it sometimes and other bits not so often? Here I'll mix and match as the whims and energy levels take me. Your tuppence worth is always welcome!

The mask...

The mask...
Life is for loving and living no matter what it involves...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

An evening to remember

New Year's eve is the time of year I like best. Not so commercial as Christmas yet just as full of indulgence and merriment. How wonderful it is that no matter how good, bad or indifferent your year has been this is the eve that allows you to take stock and move onwards, upwards or sideways. On this night of all nights the world is once more your oyster as with the an arbitrary click of the celestial wheel we shunt into another 365 day cycle. Had a bad year? Shrug it off with a grin and wink, down that champers and welcome on in 2011, hello you beautiful blank slate you, let's make plans. Your year was brimming with delight? Well then shout hurrah and so long you beauty, may the next 12 months be just as bountiful. Any which way you choose New Year's eve is a gift waiting to be unwrapped.

Not quite our back garden but a very Happy New Year to everyone! x

Isn't it just brilliant that more and more people choose to celebrate this night with family and friends, house parties, intimate dinners or a chilled one with a bottle of fizz and Jools on the box. It was the millennium what did it I tells ya. The overpriced tickets for pubs, clubs and restaurants (where you could puff and huff your way to midnight with the crowds fighting to get served before the bell tolled) shone a big old beam of light on how silly it all was when you can have twice as much fun at home for half the price. Who wants to spend half the night queuing to get your coat in the cloakroom and the other half queuing to get it out again? Nah, stay home and use the bed (to dump coats on of course)...tut.

This year, as with many years before it, we did exactly that. Our teeny home welcomed friends and we set up Chez Carmichael, a cosy bistro offering home cooked goodies in exchange for good company and top banter. I like to go all out for NYE, so we printed up menus and place names for the table, oh yes we got right posh on ourselves we did. Here's what we ate...

Scallops cooked in the shell with chorizo, cherry toms and red onion
Home made focaccia with thyme & garlic and rosemary & sea salt
Portobello mushrooms stuffed with bacon and goats cheese
Beef in red wine stew with cheddar dumplings
Celeriac gratin
Shredded savoy cabbage with butter
Walnut, honey and chocolate tart
Madagascan vanilla ice cream with salt caramel sauce

We had planned on cheese and biscuits followed by coffee, liqueurs and mints but as it was 1am before we hit the puds they fell by the wayside. All of us had wee ones to deal with in the morning so the 2.30am bedtime we eventually succumbed to was pushing all our boundaries. Ah, if you can't push it on NYE when can you? Eating your way to midnight is a sure sign that you've passed the first flush of youth is it not? But you know what, I like this second flush of youth, my friends are long term and my cooking has come on a treat. The wee ones gifted us an early night, all slept through without a murmur allowing us grown ups to slip into a more relaxed state as the night sped past.

Spending time with people you know well is so much easier (and immeasurably more pleasurable) than faking interest in strangers you've taken pity on because they are on their own in the pub; more often than not there is a reason they are there alone that becomes more and more apparent the longer you are stuck talking to them. Oh nasty me. Let's start this year with a smile and skip. Strangers in pubs can be revelations of wonder and delight and everyone one unknown is a potential friend in the making. There; much better. None the less a night with old friends is just the perfect finale to the year, not just the year in this case but the decade. I started this decade penniless in NZ with no job and no flight home, childless and fancy free; never would I have dreamt that ten years later I'd be back in Blighty, married with 2 kids and a mortgage but life is always stranger than dreams.

So it is that I start 2011 with a feeling of contentment. We saw out the old year in the best possible way and this new one is all shiny and fresh, waiting to develop like a Polaroid picture. It just needs a bit of a shake. Let us see how that shake-up works out shall we? I hope you'll follow my progress and in turn I wish you dear reader of this blog all the best over the coming 12 months; may your shake-ups develop into beautiful pictures.

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